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ERC grant for Andrea Sangiacomo

27 July 2018
Andrea Sangiacomo

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Starting Grant to Andrea Sangiacomo. The ERC awards these € 1.5 million research grants to talented early-career scientists to encourage the highest quality research in Europe.

Andrea Sangiacomo came to the Faculty of Philosophy in Groningen as a postdoc working on the project Naturalism and Teleology in Spinoza’s Philosophy (led by Martin Lenz) in 2013. He was awarded an NWO VENI grant for his project 'Occasionalism and the secularization of early modern science: Understanding the dismissal of divine action during the scientific revolution' in 2015. Since 2015, he is an Assistant Professor in the History of Philosophy and Coordinator of the Groningen Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Thought (GCMEMT), which brings together early modernists from around the world and promotes many events and conferences throughout the year. Sangiacomo teaches History of Philosophy courses as well as History of Science courses, he has organized several successful summerschools and has made a FutureLearn MOOC entitled'The Scientific Revolution: Understanding the Roots of Modern Science' with Han Thomas Adriaenssen and Doina Rusu, which will run for the third time in December 2018.

Project description The normalisation of natural philosophy: How teaching practices shaped the evolution of early modern science

Early modern natural philosophy underwent dramatic transformations that completely reshaped its conceptual framework and set of practices. The main contention of this ERC project is that teaching practices had a decisive and ‘normalising’ impact on the progressive dissemination, adaptation and selection of rival conceptions of natural philosophy. Normalisation occurs when historical actors collectively present certain tenets as crucial for the study of a discipline, and thus prescribe them as a necessary subject for teaching and learning.

The overall aim of this ERC project is to determine and explain how the process of normalisation embedded in teaching practices shaped the evolution of early modern natural philosophy. To study normalisation, it is necessary to operate a systematic comparative investigation of hundreds of works through which natural philosophy was taught, learned and reshaped, both within and outside universities. The size of this corpus defies the traditional method of close reading used by historians of philosophy and science.

The project will meet this challenge by organically integrating close reading with digital ‘distant reading’. During the project, we will digitally transcribe a corpus of approximately 500 early modern works on natural philosophy, published in Britain, France and the Dutch Republic. Using digital tools to investigate how the networks of authors and concepts of natural philosophy co-evolved over time will allow the team project to identify textual excerpts that are representative of historical trends. By analysing these excerpts with close reading and assessing them against the digital results, it will be possible to determine and explain how normalisation shaped the evolution of natural philosophy.

This project will boost the integration of digital approaches in the history of philosophy and science by producing a newly digitised corpus, tools customized for analysing early modern texts, and methodological reflections on their implementation.

European Research Council

The ERC supports talented young researchers to set up a research team and to conduct pioneering projects. The Starting Grants are open to researchers of all nationalities with 2-7 years of experience since completion of their PhD. Out of 3170 applications that were submitted to this call, 403 researchers across Europe receive a Starting Grant this year.

Meer informatie

Persbericht ERC


This article was published by the Faculty of Philosophy.

Last modified:10 December 2018 10.43 a.m.
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